5. It's impossible to overstate how badly the Ravens wanted to win this game for John Harbaugh. John Harbaugh did his best to keep the family dynamics out of his discussions with his team this week. Yes, it was a huge story that two brothers were facing one another for the first time in NFL history, and by kickoff, we'd heard pretty much every family anecdote anyone named Harbaugh could ever remember. But John Harbaugh really wanted his players to focus on beating a 49ers team that came into Baltimore with a 9-1 record. The fact that his own flesh and blood happened to be standing on the other sideline wasn't particularly important in the big picture of the Ravens season. According to a couple players, he only mentioned it once during the week, when he gave a speech to the team about how football teams are like big extended families. They're tribes, really. And while his brother might be on the other sideline, his family -- his tribe -- would be wearing purple and black. Players, though, are human beings. They understand there were some larger themes swirling below the surface. Think about what it would be like to be John Harbaugh for a second. You've grown up in a football family and you're a good athlete, but your younger brother has always been a little bigger, a little faster and a little stronger. You've had to grind your entire career for some of the things that seemed to come easy for him. You love him deeply, but you've always been eager to carve out your own success. Losing to him would probably sting in ways you'd never want to admit. That's why I thought the Gatorade bath -- the second the Ravens have given Harbaugh this season -- was kind of cool. Steelers fans are already grumbling that the Ravens are going to regret celebrating regular season victories so exuberantly, that it will somehow come back to haunt them. (I'm not sure I follow the logic there. Somehow the Ravens will be all out of emotion by playoff time? As if you're only allowed a certain amount each season and you must distribute it appropriately? This kind of logic is probably why a lot of Steelers fans are still learning how to use a knife and fork for meals.) What was clear is the Ravens wanted John Harbaugh to know they have his back. "The whole team," Suggs said, when asked whose idea it was to douse Harbaugh. "We were going to win the game for him and then we were going to drown him. Both Harbaughs handled the entire affair with exceptional class. John Harbaugh doesn't let his guard down very much. (There are times when I think he'd made a great Secret Service agent.) But when someone asked him in the post game press conference what he was thinking as he was walking to midfield to meet his brother Jim, there was obvious emotion in his voice. I was sitting in the front row, just a few feet from him, and he kept fiddling with a notch in the wood on the podium as he gave his answer, his hand trembling the tiniest bit. "I felt really humble," Harbaugh said. "Really humble. Just thankful. Its Thanksgiving, and we told our guys there is so much to be thankful for. God has given us a lot to be thankful for, but the main thing he gives us is each other. He gives us our relationships. Running across the field to my brother hes my best friend, along with Mom and Dad and my wife. If you put yourself in his shoes, you dont put yourself in many other coaches shoes, but you can put yourself in your brothers shoes Im really proud of him.
Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun